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EyeXam: A Tour of the #1 App in Eyecare

LogoWith over 1 million downloads, EyeXam is currently the #1 downloaded eye care application in the Medical category.  Consumers can download the app for free to conveniently communicate with doctor’s offices.  Vision Source has partnered with EyeXam, offering the app as a benefit to its network of more than 2,300 offices.  If you’re wondering what it does, and how it can be used to attract patients and help eye doctors connect with patients, here is a quick tour of the main features.

Take a self-guided vision screening test (the disclaimer clearly states that this does not replace an eye examination by a licensed professional).  The most popular tests are visual acuity and color vision screenings, but there are also tests for astigmatism and eye dominance, along with an Amsler Grid to monitor macular health in AMD patients. Click here to see a video on how the visual acuity feature works.

EyeXam vision test

Doctor finder.  The EyeXam app enables users to enter a zip code or to use their current location via GPS to locate an eye doctor. VSP providers are automatically listed in the directory.Continue reading

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Mobile Apps: A Key to Patient Engagement

19062124_sAccording to Juniper Research, there were 44 million medical app downloads in 2012. This is expected to rise to 142 million by 2016.  80 percent of physicians are now using mobile technology to provide patient care.  In spite of these trends, studies have shown that only a small percentage of doctors and health care systems are actively recommending health care apps to their patients.

Most people have their mobile phones on them at all times.  25% of Americans now access the Internet only via mobile device.  Mobile allows you to stay connected with your patients anywhere, anytime.  Here are some top ways you can engage patients with mobile apps:

  • Schedule appointments
  • Send appointment reminders
  • Medication, contact lens replacement and vitamin re-order reminders
  • Bi-directional communication
  • Remote patient monitoring
  • Social media connectivity
  • Marketing / promotions

The EyeXam mobile application is the first app in eye care addressing all the features listed above for patient engagement.  Through its partnership with Eyefinity, EyeXam has over 28,000 eyecare professionals listed in a GPS-based directory.  With over 1 million consumer downloads, the EyeXam is a powerful tool to stay connected with a patient base that is increasingly moving to mobile. Continue reading

7 Strategies to Get Maximum Value from Social Media

I like hard data, mostly because somebody other than me did the monotonous research, and it takes the guesswork out of a lot of things.  Wildfire (owned by Google) recently released a report outlining seven strategies for getting maximum value from your social media posts.  A few may seem like common sense, and a few may surprise you.

  1. Tap into fans passions with photos or video media.  On Facebook, posts including a photo album, a picture or a video generate about 180%, 120%, and 100% more engagement than the average text post, respectively.  10046238_s
  2. Ask questions.  Question posts generate about 90% more engagement than the average text post.  While open ended questions require fans to consider and write out their answers, make it quick and easy by asking closed questions.  Ie. Did you know that sunglasses can protect your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration?
  3. Tell users what you want from them.  Ending a post with an instruction to “Like” or “+1” this post usually results in a higher number of those actions.  Wildfire discovered posts on their own fan page had 4 times as many likes when the phrase “LIKE if you’re as thrilled as we are” was included.
  4. Treat your fans like they’re VIPs.  According to the research firm Razorfish, the #1 reason fans “Like” or “Follow” a brand on social networks is to get access to exclusive content, promotions and deals. Offer your patients privileged content (discounts, contests, etc.) that’s offered exclusively to your fans and followers.
  5. Invite one-on-one interactions.  Give your comments a personal touch by responding to them personally.  Make your fans feel heard and appreciated addressing them by name whenever possible, and respond to their comments one-on-one.
  6. Take your relationship to the next level.  Actively invite personal conversations by soliciting their opinions on relevant topics.  Wildfire found that their most engaging posts are consistently the ones that invite people to post any question about social media – which is always answered.  Without violating privacy issues, would your patients like the ability to get answers from you about general eye issues?
  7. Humanize your brand.  For some reason, people get excited about behind-the-scenes access.  Post VIP content, such as a video of you performing a clinical procedure or a pic of the staff dressed up for Halloween.  Give your practice a personality.

Reviewing this list, most of these posts are designed to connect on an emotional level, provide value, and operate as an extension of the outstanding customer service they received in your office.  Have you found similar results with your posts?

About: Steve Vargo, O.D., M.B.A. frequently writes and lectures on using technology and digital media for marketing eye care practices.  He also practices optometry in St. John, In., where he lives with his wife and 2 sons.

Infographic: Rising Use of Social and Mobile in Healthcare

Hospitals, doctors, and patients are increasingly using social media and mobile technology to obtain healthcare information. How quickly is digital healthcare growing? This infographic from Demi and Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group has the answer.

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About: Steve Vargo, O.D., M.B.A. frequently writes and lectures on using technology and digital media for marketing eye care practices.  He also practices optometry in St. John, In., where he lives with his wife and 2 sons.

Too Busy for Social Media Marketing? Hire an Agency.

Too busy to handle your social media marketing?  Or just not sure what to post or how to effectively engage your audience through social networking?  This week we spoke with Jim Shumate, founder of OD Social Net – a social networking agency that works with optometric practices.

New Media OD:  Tell us about your company, OD Social Net, and what type of services you provide.

Jim:  We think that physicians of all types need help marketing their practices. Social Net is starting with Optometrists and has plans to reach dentists and other specialties.  I have over 20 years of eye care marketing plus small business coaching and was a partner in a software development and web marketing firm.  So starting with Optometrists is a natural.iStock_000017867861XSmall

We take a holistic approach to solving the marketing riddle for a practice.  It is important to identify your target audience and build a plan around connecting with them.  If the physician lacks providers, then we supply staff training, web marketing, and social networking as needed. We have a great new service for building online reviews that we are very excited about bringing to Optometry.

New Media OD:  From a marketing perspective, what type of posts typically elicits the greatest response from previous or potential patients?Continue reading

Mobile Marketing – Seeing is Believing!

Seeing%20is%20Believing[1]Looking for ways to stay connected with your patients between visits, while making the  in-office experience more interactive?  Mobile is the most dynamic and ubiquitous communications channel available today, and easily integrates into existing traditional marketing channels.  Check out Seeing is Believing – optometry’s first virtual conference dedicated to teaching practitioners about online tools, techniques and technology.   Here’s a sneak peak at some of the topics I’ll be discussing as part of my presentation – Mobile Marketing and Communication – Go Where the Eyes Are!

SMS Text

We love text messaging!  Everywhere we go we see people feverishly tapping away on their mobile devices.  What was once just for personal use is slowly finding a place in our practices, mostly for things like appointment reminders and alerts (ie. “your glasses are ready for pick-up”).  But what about SMS as a marketing tool?  SMS marketing is permission-based, meaning patients must opt-in to receive your messages.  As opposed to mass marketing like e-blasts or direct mail, permission-based marketing creates opportunities to define a niche market and design marketing campaigns specific to that group.  Got a dry eye specialty?  Vision therapy?  Sports vision?  Looking for ways to build awareness and attract new patients?  I’ll discuss a few ways to get people interested in joining your “mobile club”.

13251619-scanning-qr-code-with-mobile-smart-phone-isolated-on-white[1]QR Codes

QR codes are basically a link that connects to digital content when scanned with a smartphone.   They are a fun and interactive way to direct people to your website, Facebook page or even Youtube videos.  They are also a great way to drive sales by making your optical more educational.  For ex. “scan the image to see how sunglasses protect the eyes from harmful UV radiation”.   I’ll provide a list of free informational vids you can use in your optical.Continue reading

EyeXam: Connect with Your Mobile Patients

Guest blogger: Nikki Iravani, O.D., founder of the EyeXam app

EyeXam is currently the #1 app on the App store when searching for “eye exam” or “eye doctor”.

From a consumer standpoint, consumers can download the free app to conveniently communicate with VSP offices. The most popular and highly-rated features of the app include appointment scheduling anytime-anywhere, instant messaging offices to ask questions, place optical and contact lens replacement orders, set personalized reminders, view on-going promotions for eye-related products and receive notifications from VSP offices regarding upcoming promotions, sales and trunk shows.Logo

From a practitioners’ standpoint, the EyeXam Dashboard will connect the eyecare provider’s office with new and existing patients by providing valuable information about perspective patients who are in the area looking for eyecare providers and have looked at the practitioner’s profile. This enhanced marketing tool is crucial in the eyecare providers ability to expand their practice. Offices who subscribe to the mobile platform can promote sales at their offices, send reminders to their patients and communicate with their patients via EyeXam without bombarding their email and text message inboxes. VSP providers are already listed in the mobile app and can take advantage of the app’s great features by upgrading their profile for a low monthly subscription fee.

More information about EyeXam can be found at: http://www.eyexam.com

Use QR Codes to Drive Optical Sales

13251619-scanning-qr-code-with-mobile-smart-phone-isolated-on-white[1]QR codes are still a bit of an enigma for many people.  If you’re one of those people, you might think that most people share the same indifference toward these funny looking bar codes.  However, you might be surprised to hear that more than 50% of smartphone owners have scanned a QR code (ComScore), and they have grown by 120% from this time last year (NeoMedia).

Any smartphone equipped with a camera and a QR reader can scan a QR code, which serves as a link connecting you with digital or web content.  This technology allows you to interact with your patients and customers on a higher level.  Patients can scan these codes to learn about your products or services in a more interactive way.  Consider placing these in your optical or dispensary inviting patients to scan the code to see a video on the benefits of polarized lenses, progressives, etc.  Although we train our opticians to discuss these benefits, people tend to have a stronger emotional reaction to visual imagery.  If patients can “see” the value, they may be pre-sold before even sitting down with the optician.

QR4EAvoid Showrooming

Showrooming is when a customer enters a brick and morter store to touch and feel the product and then goes online or to a big-box competitor to purchase at a lower price.  While this is most common with electronics and retail clothing, I think its nonetheless worthy of our attention as online frame vendors become increasingly prevelant.  Research has shown that the longer you can keep customers in your business and engaged in the products you sell, the greater the chance you will keep the sale in-house.  Click HERE to see a quick video on QR codes and the showrooming effect.

Make it Easy!

A few suggestions on QR codes:  If room permits, provide brief instructions for your tech-averse patients (ie. visit scan.mobi on your smartphone and download the QR reader).  Also, let them know what will happen when they scan the code.  Don’t simply assume they will scan it just because you placed it there.  Lastly, consider that people who scan QR codes are on their mobile phone.  Don’t send them to your desktop website.  People on-the-go have short attention spans and want quick info, a full website does not render well on a 3 inch screen.  Now if you have a “mobile website” – that’s a different story!

Turn Scans into Revenue

It should also be noted that a third of people who scan a QR code have a household income over $100K, so these might serve to attract consumers of a higher income level with greater spending power.

If you’re looking for ways to make your optical more interactive, click HERE to access a list of QR codes that link to educational videos.  Take as many as you like – they’re free!  (author’s note: I do have permission from the various companies to use / distribute these videos for patient education purposes)

About Steve:  Steve Vargo, O.D., M.B.A. is in private practice in St. John, Indiana where he lives with his wife and 2 sons.  He also founded iMobile Communications, and frequently writes and lectures about using technology for marketing and communication.

Add the Eye Health News Feed to Your Facebook Page

You have a Facebook page, but you can’t seem to find the time to post regularly.  To encourage repeat visits and practice loyalty, your practice Facebook page should provide frequent updates that are up to date and informative.  The Eye Health News Feed offered by AllAboutVision.com automatically updates your Facebook page with reliable, interesting and educational information… without any effort or cost.

How it works:

The Eye Health News Feed is designed to help keep Facebook pages up-to-date and informative for eye care practitioners. Doctors sign up for the feed here, and have the choice of a feed that posts once a week, or one that posts 2-3 times a week. There is also an international news feed for practices outside the U.S.  They recommend that practices have a member of their staff add the feed for them, but doctors do have the option of adding it themselves. Once it is added to a Facebook page, the Eye Health News Feed will update automatically with weekly posts.

Type of content:

The feed only posts eye health and vision news. It does not include any product news, so there’s never a conflict between the products a doctor uses in his or her office. You can see a feed-enabled Facebook page here for a reference of their recent posts.  It is a great way to educate patients and build Facebook traffic.

Added benefits:

The feed is completely free and can be paused at any time. The automatic updates of relevant news allow eye care professionals to focus on their own practice-related posts and promotions.

Steve Vargo, OD, MBA is president of iMobile Communications, a digital media marketing service.  He also writes and lectures on ways to improve practice efficiency and profitibility through technology and social media.

Power Practice: Dr. Gary Gerber Chats with New Media OD

Dr. Gary Gerber is president and founder of the Power Practice, an optometric consulting firm that specializes in making optometrists more profitable.  His own optometry practice was among the top 1% of practices in the world, and he has given lectures and presentations across the globe (and he also does magic)!

We recently had a chance to pick Gary’s brain on some of the ways technology and social media are changing the ways we market our practices.

New Media OD:  For those unfamiliar with Power Practice, please give us an overview of your services and business philosophy.

Dr. Gerber:  We provide customized, premium practice building services that are laser centered on powering a doctor’s personal and professional dreams.  Unlike some of our competitors, our programs are individually tailored to each practitioner’s personal goals and business aspirations.  Our philosophy and mantra is simple:  Our doctor’s have to succeed!  Ensuring our doctors succeed isn’t a task.  It’s our purpose.  And working with our doctors isn’t a job – it’s a relationship.  One that we take VERY seriously!

New Media OD:  From a business and marketing standpoint, how has technology and social media changed the marketing landscape for optometric practices?Continue reading